Last season, junior goaltender Rob Nichols carried the UConn Men’s Hockey team with his stellar play between the pipes. He played 1,680 out of the 2,182 minutes for the Huskies, starting 29 of 36 games.
For two years now, Nichols has been the clear cut top option in the net. Last season, he allowed 2.93 goals per game and had a save percentage of .911. He added two shut outs, as well, coming in consecutive outings. He blanked Arizona State on January 10 in the Desert Hockey Classic and followed it up with a career-high 44-save performance five days later against Maine in Orono.
While Nichols has held the starting job without much of a challenge, he will have some competition this year from freshman Adam Huska.
“I think it makes us better,” Nichols said. “All four of us are pushing each other and making each other better.”
Huska comes to the Huskies from Zvolen, Slovakia but has spent the last two seasons in the USHL, playing both for the Green Bay Gamblers. In 2015-2016, he was the USHL Goaltender of the Year and was named to the All-USHL first team with a goals against average of 1.82 and a save percentage of .931. He was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 7th round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Head coach Mike Cavanaugh said on the team’s media day that he will try to get both Nichols and Huska on the ice during the Huskies’ exhibition opener. Once the season starts, it is very possible that Huska plays a majority of games in net this year.
UConn will get on the ice for the first time against St. Francis Xavier, who will be making the trip from Nova Scotia for the exhibition. Puck drop will be at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday at Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs. Those unable to attend can follow me @ShawnMMcGrath on Twitter for live updates.